Within the primary education curriculum, science is defined as a compulsory subject. However, recent research, which will be discussed in this paper, suggests that science is often taught ineffectively and schools often do not teach the required two hours a week. This paper will focus on whether science is being taught ineffectively and will look at key issues, such as teacher confidence and the gender gap, as to why this is.
In a recent survey, carried out by Ofsted (2013, pp.6-8) in 91 primary schools, it was found that science was not being taught everyday and was instead being taught through “irregular science days”. In a minority of cases, this resulted in the schools failing to fully cover the science curriculum and/or not tracking the pupils’ progress in order to set “challenging targets for improvement”; it was clear that science was not a priority. The report, however, did comment that, in the majority of schools surveyed, the overall effectiveness in science was either good or outstanding. On the other hand, head teachers would often organise an atypical day of science teaching when visited by Ofsted, perhaps meaning that the report’s findings lack validity as the lessons observed are not actually representative of how science is actually taught in the schools.
Nonetheless, from personal experience in schools, science is a subject that is seemingly taught when there is free time to do so; it has, from personal perception, never been approached as being a priority subject. This is at the cost of the pupils, as science provides the opportunity for pupils to work scientifically and develop their skills of enquiry. For the majority of their time in school, children are provided with a quest...
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...als the best in the world”.
It is somewhat explicit that the current situation for primary science, is that as some practitioners are teaching the subject ineffectively, pupils (as well as the teachers themselves) are becoming disengaged from the subject. Consequentially, some of those unengaged pupils who then decide to become teachers when they have grown older, will then too lack the confidence to teach science effectively. Sullivan (2015) describes this as a “vicious circle”, and one that is “hard to break”. Nevertheless, Sullivan argues that by undertaking methods of improvement, such as committing more time to the subject and arranging for staff to attend stimulating and worthwhile training, teachers will have more confidence and will feel more capable to inspire their pupils. Which will then, as a result, enable the future teachers to inspire their own pupils.
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